EU countries discuss national border control extensions

25 Jan 16

EUROPEAN UNION

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? EU member countries asked the European Commission Monday to make “legal and practical” preparations for the extension of national border controlsas Europe continues to grapple with the arrival of huge numbers of asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa.

What does the change mean? Some EU countries are seeking to invoke Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code, which would allow for national border controls beyond six monthsA handful of Schengen Area countries – including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden – have set up temporary border controls, as asylum seekers continue to arrive in Europe in record numbers. EU countries are also focusing on better security on the EU’s external borders, but some member countries have said that in the absence of stronger external security, internal border controls are necessary.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected:EU and non-EU nationals crossing into Schengen Area countries that have re-established border controls.
  • Business impact: New policies may slow travel at external and internal EU borders and may eventually require additional processing for individual countries.
  • Next steps: In the coming weeks and months, European leaders are expected to continue consideration of both the extension of internal border controls as well measures to enhance security along the EU’s external borders.

Background: After a meeting of justice and interior ministers in Amsterdam Monday, Dutch State Secretary for Security and Justice Klaas Dijkhoff told reporters that some EU members states are seeking to invoke Article 26 of the Schengen Borders Code, which would allow for national border controls for up to two years.

“Currently, temporary border measures can be taken only for a limited period, for six months,” he said. “But the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers, which compelled member states to take these measures nationally, have not decreased yet. So member states invited the Commission to prepare the legal and practical basis for the continuance of temporary border measures through Article 26 of the Schengen border code.”

More than 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa. There is no sign that the flow of migrants will significantly slow down anytime soon. And while both the Council of the EU and the European Commission have proposed new border control measures, some officials have said for months that if the EU is not able to do a better job of securing its external border controls, member countries will continue to resort to national border control measures.

BAL Analysis: Tensions are running high in Europe, where some leaders say long-term national border controls are necessary. For now, some countries have set up temporary border checks. Travelers with valid EU passports, D visas, Schengen C visas, or EU residence permits will be permitted to travel between Schengen states, though in some cases they may need to show passports, visas or residence permits. Delays should be expected when crossing borders with newly implemented controls. BAL will continue following developments in Europe, as officials consider both the re-establishment of internal border controls and external border security.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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